Conjure: The Arts and Culture Blog
“WE HAVE BEEN RAISED TO FEAR the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings. But, once recognized, those which do not enhance our future lose their power and can be altered. The fear of our desires keeps them suspect and indiscriminately powerful, for to suppress any truth is to give it strength beyond endurance. The fear that we cannot grow beyond whatever distortions we may find within ourselves keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, externally defined, and leads us to accept many facets of our oppression as women.” Audre Lorde
Welcome to Conjurewoman’s Blog the companion to my podcast Conjure: An Arts and Culture Podcast Magazine. I’m really excited about this project.
I always tell my students to be the kind of artist they want. Start a journal, sponsor a literary reading or a salon, an online journal, a blog. I ask them,”What kind of artist do you want to be?” Well, I’ve decided to ask myself that question.
Anyone who knows me knows that I believe in the power of conjure. To conjure is to create. I am the daughter of Marie Leveau, Charles Chestnutt, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Toni Cade Bambara, and Octavia Butler. I am the Voodoo woman, the midwife, the rootworker, the sacred one. I believe in Mammy Wata and Lasyrenn. I make magic. I am magic.
Many years ago, I worked in radio. It was great fun selecting music based on my desire. Nat King Cole tonight? Nina Simone? I found that my desires brought others satisfaction. I loved when listeners would call in say, ” You sure are playing good music tonight.” I always heard the “Gimme some more” in their voices. I wanted to move listeners, and I wanted to move myself.
Since the birth of my daughter ten years ago having a career as a writer has been challenging . I write, and I write with joy, but attending readings, conferences, art openings, and concerts has been difficult. Teaching full-time, running a writing program, being a mother to my daughter and partner to a man with a taxing career leaves me exhausted. And then there’s writing: late night, before day, between classes, between my daughter’s piano and swim lessons, I’m conjuring. And then there’s laundry and cleaning the bathroom and oh yeah eating and sleeping. You get the idea. Most days I could use a really long nap. But now I have a new rule that I borrowed from conjure woman/poet Parneshia Jones. I don’t answer my phone on Sundays. Thank you for that Parneshia. During Women’s History Month I was a guest on Honoree Fanonne Jeffers’ podcast Phillis Remastered. I had a ball talking about art and writing. I felt joy and satisfaction. I realized I missed hearing my friends and colleagues share their work in their own voices. Thank you Honoree.
And so, here I am.
I decided to start this blog/podcast based on my desire for art in its many forms: literature, music, film, visual art and food. I crave art. It thrills me, and I want it to thrill you.
My first podcast will premier in August which is the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana and the flooding of New Orleans. In honor of those who survived, and those we lost, Conjure‘s first podcast will celebrate the unsinkable folks of NOLA and the Gulf Coast. Other podcasts will feature my daughter Naomi who wants to talk about “stuff for kids.” Little conjurer woman? Oh yes.
So I begin this project for me because it’s what I want. I want stories, songs, paint. I want pen marks on my fingers and the funk of a bass.I want to discuss the poetry of grits. I want to hear artists in their own voices, and I want you to want.
Here are my offerings of desire. Read, listen, then go conjure.
Kelly Norman Ellis